Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rough Road To Freedom: A Memior by Neil T. Anderson

Best-selling author shares his inspirational journey
 
Today known as the author of the mega-seller The Bondage Breaker and the founder of Freedom in Christ ministries, Neil Anderson didn't always know that he was called to serve the Lord as a Christian minister. Though he is sure of his calling now, he readily admits that he has never sought a position in ministry and though he has founded and led a successful international parachurch organization, he refuses to spend a minute of his time to keep it in business.
 
The son and grandson of Norwegian farmers, Anderson grew up in rural Minnesota. He was a fun-loving, sports-crazy child, and no one suspected that God had planted a seed in him that would lead first to years as a pastor, then to teach in seminary, write or coauthor sixty books, and found a global ministry. Here he honestly shares his journey, complete with struggles and trials as he learns to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Though he still asks God, "Why me?" he continues to set people on the path to true freedom in Christ.

I was initially drawn to this book because I had heard of Neil T. Anderson because of his Steps To Freedom in Christ almost 2 years ago. I just went through the steps a few weeks ago. So I was excited to read his book and to see how everything had started and come together. Neil's book gave a history of his life and ministry. It was a unique look into the life of a man I have come to greatly respect for his work in spiritual battles.
I give this book 5 stars. I received this book from Kregal for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fun Secrets with Jody Hedlund




Secret #15: The thing I like least about being an author.
By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
I love being an author. I absolutely adore spinning stories together. The process of creating characters, plots, and satisfying romances is something that I don't think I could live without.
But there is a LOT more to being an author than just writing books. There are many other responsibilities that take time. I'm my own secretary, administrative assistant, travel agent, researcher, editor, publicist, and marketer.
Out of all the writerly duties, there are several that fall near the bottom of my list of favorites. One of my least favorite things to do is market my books. I'd much rather let the marketing happen naturally in the course of connections rather than having to try to cold call or sales-pitch my book to someone. Fortunately, with the ease of the internet, authors can spread the word about their books in less invasive ways.
Another duty that comes close to being my least favorite is book signings. They are really hit or miss occasions. I've been to some where I've had lines and others where I've twiddled my thumbs most of the time. In the internet age, where readers can easily connect with authors from the comfort of their homes, I think book signings have largely lost their appeal—to both reader and author alike.
Even though marketing and book signings are fairly low on my list, I'd have to say that getting rewrites from my publisher is the thing I like least about being an author.  Rewrites (also known as macro edits) are the first major set of edits my editors give me. And these rewrites involve big picture kinds of changes. They aren't simple fix-a-word-here or a-comma-there kinds of edits.
Those kinds of major changes require a great deal of thought and concentration. It's not easy to thread new thoughts, character development, and plot ideas through a finished manuscript.  I find that I have to really focus during the rewrite phase, that I need more concentrated and quiet time to work–which isn't always easy to come by.
But as hard as the rewrites are, I know they only help improve my stories. When I'm done with them, I'm always glad I persevered to make my story even better. 
What about you? What's the thing you like least about your work?

Publisher's Weekly calls Unending Devotion "A meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end."
To celebrate the release of Unending Devotion, Jody is giving away a signed copy. Leave a comment (along with your email address) to enter the drawing. Valid only with US or Canadian addresses. Giveaway ends: October 1st.
For more secrets about Jody and additional chances to win her newest release, visit her Events Page to see where she'll be next in her "Fun Secrets About Author Jody Hedlund" blog tour.
Also join in the Pinterest Photo Contest she's hosting. Find more information about it on her Contest Page.
Jody would love to connect with you! Find her in one of these places:


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

When A Woman You Love Was Abused by Dawn Scott Jones


Abuse of any kind, but particularly sexual abuse, can be detrimental to a marriage. Often, if it was the wife who was abused as a child, the husband, doesn't know what he can do to help his wife. He wants to fix things, but abuse is not something one can just put a bandaid on and heal it. Dawn Scott Jones shares her own story of being sexually abused as a child by her father and how husbands and help their wives get help and heal from the scars of abuse.
Jones is honest about her own experience and her journey to find healing. She artfully weaved other people's testimonies in addition to her own. This is a great resource, not just for husbands, but to be used in ministry along side other resources like Neil T. Anderson's Steps to Freedom in Christ and his book Bondage Breaker.
I give this book 4 stars. I received this book from Litfuse for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Reunion by Dan Walsh


Aaron Miller has spent a number of years as a handyman in a trailer park. That is all he is known for. But 40 years earlier, he saved the lives of three fellow comrades in Vietnam. But when he came home from the war, he lost everything - his job, his wife, his kids. But after 40 years, the men he saved are trying to find him.
Dave Russo is trying to write a book on heroes of Vietnam. When he goes to interview a man, that man tells him he needs to interview someone else, and he proceeds to tell Russo Aaron Miller's story. Russo is then hired to find Miller. If he does so, Russo will have enough money to finish his book.
Will Russo be able to find Aaron Miller. If so, will Miller want to meet the men he saved 40 years ago? Will he be able to regain anything he has lost over these last 40 years?
The Reunion was a very powerful book. It was not just about a search for a man who was a hero, but a restoration and a redeeming of one man's life. This is the second book by Dan Walsh that I have read, but I can't wait to read more by him. It was an excellent book and definitely a top book for 2012!
I received this book from Revell for the purpose of this review.

The Choice by Robert Whitlow




Sandy Lincoln is an unwed teen in 1974. She seemed to have the perfect life up until she got pregnant. Then everything changed. Forced to choose between having an abortion, which her boyfriend wants, and going to live with her aunt in Atlanta, she decides to move. But on the day of her move, she encounters a woman who gives her a prophecy and a warning. Unsure what to do, Sandy tries to make the best position possible, based on that information. But now she must live with the consequences.
The story then jumps ahead 30 years, and Sandy finds herself a teacher trying to help a young girl like she was, scared and pregnant. But in order to do so, Sandy comes face to face with the consequences of her own choice 30 years earlier.
This is one book I didn't want to put down. It was my first Whitlow book, and I loved every minute of it. I couldn't read this book fast enough. It was a great page turner. I give this book 5 stars! It was one of the best books I have read this year. 
I received this book from Booksneeze for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Band Of Sisters by Cathy Gohlke





Inspired/Encouraged to write a book about a contemporary issues, Cathy Gohlke, took a modern day issue of slavery and prostitution and set it in a historical setting.
Maureen O'Reilly and her sister, Olivia, leave their homeland of Ireland to head to America in order to came a promise given to their father even before they were born. Maureen survives Ellis Island and is able to leave before Olivia. But Maureen finds out that the family benefactor has died, and his family won't help the O'Reilly's. So Maureen decides to live a lie in order to stay in America. When Olivia is allowed to leave Ellis Island, She doesn't know all that Maureen has done to keep both of them in America. Both Maureen and Olivia see a need to fight for the injustices they see around them, but they don't see the other fighting the same way they are and get mad with each other. Will they be able to put aside their misunderstandings to remember who they are as a family?
I loved reading this book. Gohlke did a masterful job presenting a modern issue in a historical format. I give this book 5 stars! I received this book from Tyndale for the purpose of this review.

http://authorcathygohlke.com


Q&A With Cathy Gohlke
1. What motivated you to write Band of Sisters?
I’ve always been fascinated by the abolition of slavery and the civil rights
movement. But I was horrified to learn that there are more than twice as many men, women and children enslaved today than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This book was born of a passion to end modern-day slavery, and most of all, to ask, “What can I do to help in a need so desperate?”

2. Why did you choose NYC 1910-1911 to tell this story? And how does human trafficking in that era compare to human trafficking today?
I was inspired by an article I’d read about Alma Mathews. Alma was a small but determined woman who, armed with her umbrella and a hefty douse of fury, stood against dangerous men bent on exploiting immigrant women as they entered the U.S. through Castle Gardens, in old New York City. Alma ushered young women to her home, prepared them for employment, and helped them begin a safe new life in the city. It became a full time ministry involving many—all in the early days of the settlement house movement.
But my editor suggested that I set the story later, when immigrants entered the U.S. through Ellis Island. As I researched that possibility, I found that the problem of exploitation and human trafficking had not only grown during those years, but that the strikes of NYC shirtwaist factory workers had made public the desperate need for women to make a living wage in safe circumstances. Necessary elements for the story and high drama were all a matter of public record—everything from the passing of the Mann Act to address the fear of white slavery to the Triangle Waist Factory fire.
Even though our technology, transportation, communication, etc., is different from the story’s era, many countries today are no further in providing rights and safeguards for women than the U.S. was in 1910. Some are further behind.
Many of the same ruses are used by traffickers to lure women into their snare now as they were then: better paying jobs for themselves and/or money for their families, flirtation, pretense of emotional caring and support, marriage, offers specifically for modeling jobs, offers for education, appeals for help of various kinds, plays on sympathies, etc.
In some cases, after having sex with someone they trusted, or after being drugged and forced into having sex, women or children are/were blackmailed. Fearful that their families will not believe them or will accuse them of promiscuity and reject them, they are afraid and feel compelled to sneak out and “service” men when called. Some are sold to traffickers or users by members of their own family, or by someone they trust.
Once trapped—sometimes after being unwittingly drugged and/or blackmailed— women are often transported far from their home (crossing borders to other states or countries). Held against their will through abuse, enforced poverty, lack of ID, lack of language skills, lack of visas or passports, they may simply not know who to trust or where to go for help in the country in which they find themselves. Isolation, threats to their person or their family, repeated brain washing that they are dirty, worthless,
Q&A for Band of Sisters/Gohlke 2
unwanted, unloved, and good for nothing but sex with paying customers are all tools that traffickers use to intimidate and control their victims.
Fear of what will happen if they try to escape, fear that they have ruined their lives and will have no other way to live, fear for themselves and loved ones, resulting health problems, feelings of hopelessness and a constantly reinforced sense of self- worthlessness all form formidable prisons for victims of trafficking. Even if it seems they can physically escape, they may not be able to break the emotional or mental chains that bind them.
All those things happened then, and they continue to happen to victims today.

3. What research did you do?
My research began with human trafficking today and the fight to abolish modern- day slavery through books, the internet, and through organizations and individuals that are helping in various ways—raising awareness, rescuing, restoring and healing victims, tracking down and prosecuting predators, education of men and boys re. the human rights and intrinsic worth of women, safe houses, etc., and those who fundraise to assist organizations or individuals who are already doing these things.
For historical background I watched documentaries and read (books, old newspapers, archives) about the growth of old New York, the social conditions and desperation of the poor and of immigrants in particular, the disadvantages to those who did not speak English, the unique problems of women and children—the opportunities for and difficulties of making a living wage outside of prostitution, the threats made to women and their families to coerce them into sexual service, of their economic desperation without a male provider, of their few legal rights, and of the unfair treatment women received in court. Those studies led me to the development of the sweatshops, the growth, expansion and revisions of the settlement house movement, the work of Jacob Riis in making the abject poverty of thousands known to the public.
Learning of those conditions led to a special interest in Irish immigrants—their cultural and social strengths and weaknesses, their views of family, their aptitude for and reception in different types of employment in America.
My husband and I made two trips to NYC. From there we conducted research at Ellis Island, took several tours in the Tenement Museum, and bought more research books and maps, including more on the Triangle Waist Factory fire.
Once I knew my storyline, I mapped out locations of the story and trekked through Manhattan, exploring old sites, especially between Mid-town Manhattan, through Washington Square and the surrounding NYU area (including the site of the Triangle fire), the Bowery and the Lower East Side. As I walked, photographed the city, explored, and talked with residents, the voices of my characters erupted. I gladly followed their lead.

4. Band of Sisters takes place in NYC. Do you think human trafficking is limited to large cities?
No. That is why raising awareness of the crime and education re. the methods used by traffickers is so important. Small, rural, isolated or poor communities are targets just as vulnerable as big cities. Traffickers often enter such communities with bogus offers of better jobs, modeling opportunities for young people, and offers for education. But those dreams are crushed when willing applicants are unwittingly sold as sex slaves or used for pornography, with no way to get back to their homes and families. In some cultures, once a girl has been so abused, she is no longer welcome to return to her family, thereby compounding the problem and sense of hopelessness. Education and understanding is desperately needed on all parts.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz


Love's Reckoning is the first book in The Ballantyne Legacy series. In it, Silas Ballantyne is determined to finish his blacksmith apprenticeship, but to do so, he must go to York, Pennsylvania to work under master blacksmith Liege Lee. Lee has two daughters, and it has long been a custom to marry a daughter off to one's apprentice. Lee hopes to marry his oldest daughter off to Silas, but the two daughters are as different as night and day. Will Lee have his way, or will Silas be able to choose his own bride. Will a sibling rivalry turn one sister against the other in hopes of winning Silas' heart?

The first half of the book went rather slow for me. It was easy to put down, but once I got halfway into it, I didn't want the book to end. I look forward to the other books coming out and following Silas Ballantyne and his family through the next 50+ years to the end of the Civil War.
I give this book 4 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Revell for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

House of Mercy by Erin Healy




Beth wants to become a vet to help their family run their cattle ranch. But one foolish decision threatens to destroy everything her family has worked for over several generations. While Beth tries to do everything she can to fix her mistake, things only seem to get more complicated. Beth feels that her only hope is to go find the grandfather she never met. But she must journey across the mountains on horseback, guided by a wild wolf. Will she find the answers she is looking for? Will her grandfather help her reunite her family?
I had a hard time getting into this book. It seemed too slow for me at the beginning. But I was in the midst of a move when I was reading it, so that didn't help things. I do look forward to going back and reading Healy's previous book, The Baker's Wife, before making any judgments.
I give this book 3.5 stars. I received this book from the B&B Media Group for the purpose of this review.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tangled Ashes by Michele Phoenix

From the Back Cover
After invading Lamorlaye, France, Nazi officials don’t hesitate to take over the beautiful Meunier manor as their headquarters, hiring two young Frenchwomen, Marie and Elise, who clean and launder to help supplement their families’ meager incomes. But the girls begin to grow suspicious when medical equipment arrives, followed by an influx of pregnant women. As the Nazis’ plans for the manor become clear, the girls must decide where their loyalties truly lie.

More than fifty years later . . .
Architect Marshall Becker arrives in Lamorlaye to begin the massive renovation of a Renaissance-era castle. The project that was meant to provide an escape for Becker instead becomes a gripping glimpse into the human drama that unfolded during the Nazi occupation and seems to live on in midnight disturbances and bizarre acts of vandalism.

Becker explores the castle’s shadowy history as he seeks to cope with the demons from his own past. Only Jade, the feisty nanny of the owner’s children, is willing to stand up to him. But Becker soon discovers that every one of the ch√Ęteau’s inhabitants seems to have something to hide and something to protect—and something worth fighting for.

My Review: I enjoyed reading about the renovation of the castle, but this was another book that had me more interested in the secondary, historical story, more than the contemporary story, until they intersected at the very end. I enjoyed both stories, but I could not wait to get to the next section that was set in the 1940's.
I received the ARC of this book from the author. This book comes out Oct 1, 2012. I give this book 4 stars.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yesterday's Stardust by Becky Melby




Yesterday's Stardust is the second book in the Lost Sanctuary Series, with the first being Tomorrow's Sun. In this book, Dani Gallagher, a journalist, is trying to write some articles about a local gang, and decides to essentially go undercover to get the real scoop. In the process she finds an old diary from the 1920's that contain clues to a lost treasure. Dani doesn't know enough of the history of the people to figure out these clues on her own, so she enlists a local chef and her neighbor, Nicky Firorini, to help her, as Nicky's family is mentioned in the diary. But things are just not as easy as Dani hopes. 

I enjoyed reading the book, and loved the history of the characters from the Roaring Twenties. In fact, I enjoyed reading the diary portions of the book more than the rest of the book. But I found Tomorrow's Sun, the first book in the series to be more interesting overall. I give this book 4 stars.
I received this book from the author herself for this review.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Food Family Style by Leigh Oliver Vickery




This cookbook, by "Queso Queen" Leigh Oliver Vickery, is filled with family friendly recipes. There are designations for recipes that are easy for kids to help with, double easily, freeze well, are gluten-free or vegetarian, made in a slow cooker and more. Vickery's books also includes tips on involving kids in the meal preparation, and even conversations starters.
I was excited by this cookbook when i saw it. I thought there would be a lot of recipes I wanted to try. But when we picked out a couple recipes to try, they didn't come out as good as I was hoping they would. The three recipes we tried were the Lemon Punch Cake (page 241), Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash (page 72), and Tater Tot Casserole (page 30).
The Lemon cake didn't have the flavor that we hoped it would, and the glaze didn't penetrate the cake. The Tater tot casserole had too much milk in it, for it to set in the given time. The Sweet Potato Hash was probably the best of the meals. 
As much as we had some issues with the recipes, I want to keep trying more recipes. It was a cookbook that I wanted to try every recipe in it. While I may not do that, I will try more in the future. I give this cookbook 4 stars.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hide and Seek by Maj. (Ret.) Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky




It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!


You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card authors are:



Jeff Struecker

and
Alton L. Gansky


and the book:



Hide and Seek


B&H Books (July 1, 2012)


***Special thanks to Rick Roberson, The B&B Media Group, Inc for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jeff Struecker was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. At age 18, he enlisted the US Army as an infantryman and retired as a Chaplain with over 22 years of active federal service. He currently serves as Associate Pastor of Ministry Development at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, GA. Throughout his career Jeff has attended numerous professional military schools and has received many awards and commendations. His combat experience includes participation in Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Iris Gold in Kuwait, Operation Gothic Serpent, in Mogadishu, Somalia, and multiple tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jeff holds a Master of Divinity Degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, a Bachelor of Science Degree and Associate of Science Degree from Troy University in Alabama. Jeff and his wife, Dawn, have five children: Aaron, Jacob, Joseph, Abigail and Lydia.
Visit the author's website.

Alton L. Gansky is the author of 23 novels and 7 nonfiction works, as well as principle writer of 7 novels and 2 nonfiction books. He has been a Christie Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice). He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies. He lives in central California with his wife.

Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Amelia Lennon no longer wears a uniform or carries a weapon. An Army trained Foreign Affairs Officer, she's negotiating a dispute with the Kyrgyzstan government that threatens to leave the U.S. without an airbase in that region. She traded her gun for the power of words, but now she needs both. While following her government contact-Jildiz Oskonbaeva, the lawyer daughter of Kyrgyzstan's president-Amelia witnesses an attempt to abduct her. She manages to prevent the kidnapping, but now the two women are on the run in a city that's erupting into chaos.

Master Sergeant J.J. Bartley is the Special Operations team leader tasked to rescue Amelia and Jildiz. With two new members in his unit-one with a secret that could endanger everyone's life-J.J. must soldier his unit through crazed mobs intent on overthrowing the government. Back home, his pregnant wife is misinformed that her husband and the team have been killed. But before this is over, Bartley will find out that's the least of his problems.






Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
  • Paperback: 400 pages

  • Publisher: B&H Books (July 1, 2012)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1433671425

  • ISBN-13: 978-1433671425






  • My review: This book took a little while to set up the stories but once they intersected, they came together beautifully and I really enjoyed reading the book. The author made me really feel for the characters and I wanted to see them triumph in their struggles to survive. The three different story lines were intriguing. I especially thought about the story line of J.J.'s wife and wondered what I would do in that situation. This was a book that I knew how I wanted it to end, but I wasn't sure what was going to happen when I turned each page. I give this book 4.5 stars.

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    The Romanov Conspiracy by Glenn Meade



    The Romanov Royal Family


    What really happened on that night in July 1918 when the Romanov royal family was executed. Did they all die that night, or did Princess Anastasia and her brother escape? Dr. Laura Pavlov, an American forensic archaeologist, and an international team are digging in the outskirts of Ekaterinburg, Russia where the Royal family was executed. In one of the mine shafts, Pavlov and her team find a perfectly preserved body. Laura then leaves Russia in search of answers because of what was found on the body. She finds a clue that takes her to Ireland to understand what happened in the days leading up to the Romanov family execution.


    I've learned about the history of Russia first taking a Russian literature class in high school and then visiting Belarus as a freshman in college. So when i saw this book was available for a blog tour, I had to get it! I was a little taken aback by the length (over 500 pages), but I as I read it, I was hooked from the beginning. It was a little slow going just trying to concentrate on all that was happening and keeping all the characters straight. I found myself having to reread a page or two when I got distracted so I could keep up with the story. I planned on reading just one part a day, figuring the book would take me all week, but I finished it in just over 3 days. I did not want to put the book down! The story line of the Romanov family intrigued me. The author put in twists and turns that I would have never figured out. I'd love to sit down and read this book again!
    I give this book 4.5 stars. I received The Romanov Conspiracy from Howard for the purpose of this review.

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth

    *This book should not be confused with Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman.



    Nancy Sleeth and her family desired to "incorporate the best of Amish principles" into their modern lives. They found Amish principles in the areas of homes, technology, finances, nature, simplicity, service, security, community, families and faith and tries to incorporate them into their lives, by making some unusual choices for their family. However, rather than being like a personal journal of their experiences, this book is more a list of some common sense ideas and principles with some Amish and Biblical backing.
    I must say that I high higher hopes for this book. Sleeth book is more how to take some Amish ideas regarding life and try to fit them into our culture. It doesn't really work. It also seemed like it was very selective in what ideas Sleeth took from the Amish to incorporate into her own families life. Based on the title, I had the idea that the book was going to be more of a personal journal of the family's "quest for a slower, simpler, more sustainable life", but what it really was was 10 categories of Amish ideas and how we can try to fit them into our American, modern culture. This is not to say that the examples she gives do not work, but its not because they are Amish ideas. A lot of it is just plain common sense, such as needing a time to just unplug from technology (computers, phones, email, etc), and just spend time as family and friends together to build relationships or being wise with your money.
    I give this book 3 stars. It wasn't a bad book, but I was not at all impressed with it.

    Sunday, July 29, 2012

    Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman



    This is definitely a book that should be read after reading the first book in the series, For Time and Eternity, as this book picks up right where the first book ends. In this second book, Camilla Fox is rescued from the near fatal snow storm after having left the Mormon faith desiring to return to her parents home. In the care of Colonel Charles Brandon, Fox must first recover after the snow storm before trying to make her way to her childhood home. Camilla desperately desires to have a home of her own in which she can care for her two girls. But before they can be with her, she will have to return to Salt Lake City to fight for them.
    I read both book one and two within 3 days. Once I started book one, I didn't want to stop. Sadly, when I did finish book one, I didn't have book two with me, so I had to wait a few agonizing hours before being able to start the next book. These books make me feel sorry for those who get caught up in the lies of Mormonism and feel they have no way out, once they see the truth. Camilla found love from Nathan, but when her parents objected to the relationship, she felt it was simply because he was a Mormon. Camilla didn't understand what her parents saw, and they weren't able to articulate it to her. If that were different, Camilla might have made a different choice.
    I give this book 5 stars. I loved it! I can't wait to read what Allison Pittman writes next!

    My Hair and God's Mercies by Yvette Maher and Amy Tracy


    Yvetter Maher shares some of the pain she's experienced in her life. Her book is filled with stories about different times in her life when things could have been hopeless, but God was still there and he redeemed the hopeless situations and brought beauty from ashes.
    I found this book very confusing. There did not seem to be any order to the stories presented, and it was hard to distinguish between Yvette's life before and after her salvation. Other than her growth during her time at Focus on the Family, it didn't seem much in her life changed other than her attitude. The book was very disjointed and one I'm glad I didn't pay for. I give this book 3 stars.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman



    This week, the
     
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
     
    is introducing
     
    Almost Amish
     
    Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
     
    by
     
    Kathryn Cushman



    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


    Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy, but all her life she knew that she wanted to write a novel “some day”. For her, “some day” came in 2003, when she started writing and never looked back.


    Her first two manuscripts remain firmly ensconced in the back of her closet (the dust bunnies tell her they really are terrific!). Her third attempt became her first published novel.

    A Promise to Remember and Leaving Yesterday were both finalists for the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, and Waiting for Daybreak was a finalist in Women’s Fiction for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

    On the homefront, she has been married to the wonderful and handsome Lee for nearly twenty-five years now, and their two daughters are currently braving the worlds of high school and college.

    They’ve lived in Santa Barbara for over twenty years. It’s a beautiful place and Kathryn feel blessed to be there (although a seventy degree Christmas still leaves her dreaming of a white one—or at least a colder one!)

    When she's not writing or reading or braving seventy degree holidays, you’ll find her trying her best to keep up with her daughters in their various theater, softball, dance, and filled-with-activity lives.  

    ABOUT THE BOOK


    Proving the Simple Life Isn't So Simple After All


    Overcommitted and overwhelmed, Julie Charlton is at the breaking point. She knows she should feel blessed as a mother and wife--but she just feels exhausted. And then, the miraculous happens. Her sister-in-law Susan, a Martha Stewart-in-training, lands the chance to participate in a reality TV series about trying to live like the Amish and needs another family to join her. It's just the break Julie needs.

    But the summer adventure in simple living soon proves anything but simple. With the camera watching every move, Susan's drive for perfection feels a lot like what they left behind, while Julie suddenly finds herself needing to stand up for slowing down. Whether it's cooking, cleaning, or dressing differently, each new Amish challenge raises new complications...and soon each woman learns unexpected lessons about herself and her family.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Almost Amish, go HERE.


    My Review:

    I loved this book! I have read too many of the typical Amish books that i am generally bored with anything Amish, but this book had such a great twist, that I just loved it. The book was about one extended family learning to live like the Amish for a reality TV show. It reminded me of watching shows like PBS' The 1900 House in which a family from England in 2000, spent three months living in a restored house with all the technology of 1900. All of the characters developed and grew throughout the book. They each had personal victories and overcame some of their flaws.

    We spend so much time running from one project or activity to another that we forget to slow down and enjoy life. Julie found out that while the Amish life was harder, everything they did had a purpose. Food was made because the family needed to eat, laundry was done to have clean clothing. Gardens were tended so the family would have food to eat. I loved the line toward the end that really made me think, "Instead of being intentional about my day, I end up reacting to the urgent." 

    I give this book 4.5 stars. I received Almost Amish from CFBA

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Road To The Christys - The Maid Of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen








    From the back cover:
    To escape a scheme to marry her off to a dishonorable man, Margaret Macy flees London disguised as a housemaid. If she can remain unwed until her next birthday, she will receive an inheritance, and with it, sweet independence. But she never planned on actually working as a servant. And certainly not in the home of Nathaniel and Lewis Upchurch--both former suitors.
    As she fumbles through the first real work of her life, Margaret struggles to keep her identity secret when suspicions arise and prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall. Can she avoid a trap meant to force her from hiding?
    Brimming with romance and danger, The Maid of Fairbourne Halltakes readers inside the fascinating belowstairs world of a 19th-century English manor, where appearances can be deceiving.
    My Review:
    This is my first book by Julie Klassen that I have read (I do have two of her other books on my kindle waiting to be read). I loved how it was not the typical Regency England book. It did not focus on the upper class, although they were certainly part of the story, but it focused on the lives of the servants within the house. It was a very well written book that really captured my attention. I read the whole book in less than 24 hours (even reading it when i was supposed to be doing a few other things....) I loved Margaret Macy’s determinedness to succeed in her new life as well as the secrecy and irony of her new life.


    I give this book 5 stars, and with the popularity of shows like Downton Abbey, this book should be very popular.


    I received this book free from Bethany House for the purpose of this review

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Road To The Christys - Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola




    Shiloh Jacob’s life is about to change in a very big way. She has been a writer for the Associated Press in Tokyo. Life seems to be going well for her until she plagerizes an article. Her editor doesn’t notice at first, but then it seems like all hell breaks loose in Shiloh’s life. She gets a call that her mother has died and she has to go to Virginia for the funeral. She leaves Tokyo, finds out that she is fired because of the article, finds out her fiance is cheating on her, and thinks she has no where to go. After spending some time in Virginia, discovering the life her mother lived, the life Shiloh never knew about.
    I really enjoyed this book and following Shiloh from Tokyo to Virginia. The book was well written and interesting. The characters were all unique and real, and I loved discovering what happened next and following Shiloh as she experienced culture shock being in Virginia and learning about all things Southern.
    I can’t wait to read the next two books by Jennifer Rogers Spinola, Like Sweet Potato Pie and 'Till Grits Do Us Part.

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Road To The Christys - Amish Midwife




    Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark & Leslie Gould

    Lexie Jaeger lost her mother several years earlier, and just before her father dies, he tells her about a wooden box that was given to her by her birth family when she was given up for adoption. Desiring to learn more about where she came from, Lexie leavers her midwife practice in Oregon, gets a liscence to practice in Pennsylvania. A friend puts her in contact with a midwife, Marta,  who may have had some connection to Lexie’s adoption in the heart of Amish Country. Marta needs someone to take on her patients while she is in the middle of a legal battle.
    This is a beautiful story of one woman’s search for her identity while learning to trust God.

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    The Deposit Slip by Todd M. Johnson




    This week, the
     
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
     
    is introducing
     
    The Deposit Slip
     
    Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)

     
    by
     
    Todd M. Johnson
     


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





    Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years,
    specializing as a trial lawyer.

    A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota
    Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of
    International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong.

    The Deposit Slip is his debut novel. He lives outside Minneapolis,
    Minnesota, with his wife Cathy, and children Ian and Libby.




    ABOUT THE BOOK


    $10,000,000 Is Missing.


    Erin Larson is running out of options. In the wake of her father's death, she found a slim piece of paper--a deposit slip--with an unbelievable amount on it. Only the bank claims they have no record of the money, and trying to hire a lawyer has brought only intimidation and threats. Erin's last chance is Jared Neaton.

    How Far Will One Lawyer Go to Find the Money?

    When Jared wearied of the shady ethics of his big law firm and started his own, he never expected the wheels to fly off so quickly. One big loss has pushed him to the brink, and it's all he can do to scrape by.

    And How Far Will Someone Go to Stop Him?

    He's not sure if Erin's case is worth the risk, but if the money is real, all his problems could vanish. When digging deeper unleashes something far more dangerous than just threats, both Jared and Erin must decide the cost they're willing to pay to discover the truth.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of The Deposit Slip, go HERE.



    My Review:

    Erin Larson is going through her father's belongings after his death and finds a deposit slip for over 10 million dollars. However the bank claims to have no record of the deposit from three years earlier. Larson's only option to find the truth is a lawsuit. But when there are people trying to intimidate her and threaten her, even smashing the windows on her car, will she be able to follow through with the lawsuit?
    Jared Neaton is tired of the shady ethics of the big law firm and decides to start his own firm. But he is getting final bill notices and is unable to keep up with other bills. He can't risk another loss of a case. But when the Larson case is presented to him, there is something about it that makes him risk it all to take the case.

    I saw this book on Amazon before it came out, and I was really interested in it. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and read it. I was not disappointed! I loved the mystery of it and trying to figure out what really happened. Was the deposit slip real? Where did the money go? Who was trying to cover it all up? Where had the money come from originally? This book kept me wondering and trying to figure things up right up to the very last page. I give this book 4.5 stars. I received this book from the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (CFBA) for the purpose of this review.


    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble




    Libby loves historical homes, and she loves restoring them. So when she inherits an old hotel, its a dream come true. But the twists don't stop there. Her best friend is kidnapped, she finds out she has a family she never knew about, and she meets a very handsome man in the Coast Guard. But things don't get easier for her. While she tries to find her friend, her new family doesn't accept her until they find out the whole truth. Almost everyone on Hope Island thinks she is responsible for the kidnapping, and Libby has to come face to face with her own past.

    I found this to be a very fun read. I loved the character of Libby and wanted to see the book through to know how it ended. All the people of Hope Island were interesting characters. The book was a quick read, I finished it in under a day. I give this book 4.5 stars.
    I received this book from Booksneeze for the purpose of this review.

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Cottage By The Sea by Robin Jones Gunn



    Erin Bryce has just opened a wedding planning business, The Happiest Day, with her friend, Sharlene. When she gets the news that her father has some serious health issues, she travels from her home in Southern California up to the Oregon coast to spend time with him and his second wife, the brusque and very odd, Delores.
    Erin is about to be overwhelmed with the new business, her own son's wedding to Sierra Jenson, and spending time caring for her ailing father. Will she be able to keep her sanity and her focus during this chaotic time?
    Robin Jones Gunn has been one of my favorite authors since I was in late elementary school and this book did not disappoint! I enjoyed reading about Sierra's wedding, but what I enjoyed even more was Erin's devotion to her father. While Erin and her husband were trying to move him to a nursing home near their California home, Erin stayed in Oregon to take care of her father. And while spending time on the Oregon coast, Erin falls in love with the Cottage by the Sea.
    I give this book 4.5 stars.
    I received this book from Howard for the purpose of this review.

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    Bees In The Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang




    Meg Davenport has spent her life at an exclusive boarding school. She has all of her needs provided for her, but what she wants most is to have a relationship with her father, who, she thinks, doesn't love her. But when her father dies, she finds out the truth about his life and his love for her. Her father, John Davenport, was not the wealthy businessman she thought he was. Instead, he is one of the Gilded Ages most talented thieves.
    His apprentice, Ian Maguire, is charged to watch over Meg after her father's death. While he knows John would never want Meg to follow in his footsteps, Meg is trying to get to know her father by rebelling from everything she has known.

    This was a very different historical book and for that, I loved it. It did not have the typical historical book setting. At the same time, i wasn't sure how the book was going to end, even down to the last few pages. I love that about a book! Also, this book was one I was interested in reading just based on the cover alone. It is a book that, when in the store,  I would definitely pick up and take a look at.
    I give this book 4.5 stars.

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

    The Gifted by Ann H. Gabhart



    Jessamine Brady has lived as a Shaker for half of her life, being brought there after her grandmother passed away. While she struggles  to live like a Shaker, constantly needing to ask forgiveness, she is content there. That is, until one day she is in the woods to find berries and comes across a stranger in need of help. When she brings the stranger back to the Shaker village, her life is turned upside down. Will she stay with the Shakers or find a new life out in the world?

    I chose this book because I live near where the first Shakers settled in New York. I knew they had existed, but I did not know much about them. Gabhart's book gave me a glimpse into the Shaker world. However, the book was slow and predictable. Halfway through the book I had most everything figured out. The book was quite long, over 400 pages, and just progressed slowly. It was a good book, but not my favorite. I give this book 4 stars. I received this from Revell for the purpose of this review.

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

    Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate



    It's Christmas in Hope Springs, NC, and the Sanders clan is getting together, but just before Christmas, Pastor Jim Dillon, dies. The Sanders family and Pastor Dillon's family are next door neighboors, and all the children grew up next to each other. So while both families are dealing with the funeral plans and very supportive of each other, there is one uniqueness. The Dillons are white, and the Sanders are black. There are two churches in Hope Springs, the church that Pastor Dillon pastored, and the church that the Sanders go to, and they are the white church and the black church. While they are not segregated, it is what it always has been and traditions die hard.
    The book focuses specifically on 3 women, Janelle, Becca, and Stephanie. For Janelle, this is her first visit back to Hope Springs  after her husbands death a couple years earlier. Becca, is so focused on her own ministry, but her husband feels called back to Hope Springs, permanently. Stephanie finds herself at a crossroads, wondering what is coming next. Her husband is about leave for a mission trip, leaving her home alone for a month. But when Janelle volunteers to stay and help care for their grandmother, Stephanie agrees to help while her husband is away, a decision that will change the course of her life. As these women share their lives and struggles, they begin to find hope and healing with God and each other. After this season in their lives, Hope Springs will never be the same again!
    I really enjoyed this book. This is only my second book that I have read by Tate, and she has quickly become a favorite author. I am excited to see what other books she will be writing in the future! She is definitely an author to follow! The characters all were very real to me, and I could see much of the story playing out in real life. I give this book 4.5 stars. I received this book from Litfuse tours for the purpose of this review.









    Celebrate the release of Hope Springs with Kim Cash Tate by coming to her Author Chat Party on Facebook.



    Grab your copy of Hope Springs and join me for an Author Chat Party on July 10th at 8:00 PM EST (that's 7:00 Central, 6:00 MST, & 5:00 PST)!

    During the evening Kim will be sharing the story behind her new book, posting book club questions, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of chatting and fun giveaways - books, gift certificates and (I'm so excited about this) - a Kindle Fire!

    But, wait there's more – she’ll also be giving you a sneak peak of her next book too!

    RSVP today and then come back on the 10th ... and bring your friends!

    Lucy Come Home by Dave and Neta Jackson




    Lucy Tucker has lived an interesting and quite varied life. Growing up during the dust bowl, and living as a migrant worker with her family when she was a teenager, serves as a unique background to marrying a carny and living traveling from amusement park to amusement part with her husband for several years. But much of Lucy's adult life has been spent on the streets. The book jumps between Lucy's present life, in which is she living on the streets or in the Manna House shelter, and her younger years, starting in the 1940s with her family, until the two story lines meet.
    I found myself wanting the earlier story line to progress faster so I could understand more of where Lucy had come from and why she was the way she was when you see her on the streets or in the shelter, while the present day story line made me think about the life and hardships of those who live on the streets. This book has some connections to some of the Jackson's other books, being set in the same area of Chicago for part of it. I have enjoyed reading other books by Dave and Neta Jackson, but this book was not a favorite for me. I give this book 3.5 stars. I received this book from Litfuse for the purpose of my review.

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson



    In book three of the Backstage Pass series, Tia Morales is a control freak who is used to calling all the shots, especially on the set of Stars Collide, a popular sitcom. But it seems that the set is the only thing that she really has control over, and even that isn't under her control, especially when her sister gets hired as a make up artist, and Tia starts falling for Jason, the cameraman. Teaching a control freak how to relax seems to be an impossible task, but will Jason be able to show Tia how to relax enough that he can pursue a relationship with her?
    Sadly this book just bored me. I had higher hopes for it, but I couldn't really get into the book and enjoy it. Sure, parts of it were interesting, but I just couldn't enjoy it. I did love that all the chapter titles were different tv shows from over the years, many of which I knew, but some were ones I had never heard of.
    I give this book only 3 stars because I just couldn't get into it enough to enjoy it. It was a book I could easily put down and didn't want to pick up. I received this book from Revell for the purpose of this review.

    Friday, June 22, 2012

    Darkroom by Joshua Graham





    Xandra Carrick travels to her mother's homeland of Vietnam with her father to scatter her mother's ashes. Having spent her life seeking her father's approval, Xandra became a photographer like her father. When processing the photos from Vietnam, she begins to have visions that entangle her in a 40 year old conspiracy that started during the Vietnam war. Her only hope is to uncover the truth. But in doing so, she finds herself and those around her in danger.

    Darkroom was a book I wasn't sure about when I got it as I just started reading suspense books in the last few months, but this book blew me out of the water. The first almost 100 pages were a little slow as the book was just laying out the different story lines, but once they began to intersect with each other, I didn't want to put the book down.
    I give this book 4.75 stars. I received this book from Howard Books for the purpose of this review.

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond




    Sophia, a teacher in New York expects to be engaged Congressman Rexford Montgomery any day now. But when he announces his engagement to her close friend, Sophia takes the first opportunity to change her life, by signing up with the Board of Foreign Missions. While she signed up, intending to go to China, she agrees to take the first posting possible, which in her case means moving out west to teach the Ponca Indians. When Sophia arrives, she knows she can teach, but she is overwhelmed with the new culture, her own responsibilities and expectations of being a missionary. She finds a friend and an ally in the agency carpenter, Will, whose own faith helps to challenge and grow Sophia. But as she falls in love with the Ponca Indians, they ignite a joy and passion in her that leads her to do everything she can to help them. But when the government intervenes and decrees that the Ponca must be uprooted from her land, will Sophia and Will be able to continue to fight for their cause together?
    This is a book that made me fall in love with the Ponca Indians almost as much as the main characters did. I got frustrated with the government leaders when they tried to force the Poncas onto new reservations, and I rejoiced with Sophia as the children learned to read and count money and thrived in school. This book did a justice to the time period and the historical events that took place over and over with the various Indian tribes.
    I received this book from Booksneeze for the purpose of this review. I give this book 4 stars.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

    The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers


    Sierra Madrid seems to have the perfect life. But nothing stays perfect for very long. When her husband Alex announces that he has taken a job in LA and the family has to move, Sierra is severely disappointed. After the move, things just seem to fall apart for Sierra and her family. But when Sierra comes across one of her ancestor's, Mary Katherine, journals, she finds that the journal seems to parallel her own life with its pain and journey towards reconciliation.
    I loved the interchange between Sierra's story and the Mary Katherine's, and would have loved to have read more of the journal as I love the history of the Oregon Trail. The quilt that was found with the journal contains another reminder with the scarlet thread used in the quilt of God's hand in both Mary Katherine's and Sierra's lives. This is a wonderful story and I give it 4.5 stars.

    The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers



    Dynah Carey had the perfect life until she was raped. Then she discovers she is pregnant and she thinks her world has ended and her family is torn apart. When she considers an abortion, like others in her family have done, she has to decide if she will follow them, or break the cycle.
    While this is a book on the controversial topic of rape and abortion, Rivers has done a great job covering the topic and presenting in a riveting way. I could not put the book down until I finished reading it. I give this book 4.5 stars.